Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Replacing Eggs

As a vegan baker the most common question I get is, "What do you do about the eggs?"  The response to that question has so many right answers and I often offer up simple examples. But I want to say, "What do you use eggs for?" because truth is, eggs just aren't that necessary.

1. Eggs for baking. In baking, eggs are used as a leavener or more commonly a binder. Traditionally cookies, muffins, pancakes, quick-breads, and cakes all use eggs for these purposes. Turns out many natural foods can bind and leaven. Here are a few:

Flax seeds as eggs
Banana - good for muffins, pancakes, and quick breads, although it will add a banana flavor.
Yogurt- with soy, almond, and coconut options you can use this without adding unwanted flavors
Apple Sauce - helps in the binding of ingredients without adding extra density.
Flax seeds - a great natural egg replacer with many health benefits.
Chickpea flour- both binding and leavening, chickpea flour might be one of the best natural egg replacers for baked goods
*these egg replacers work mostly as binding agents so when using them in baked goods, you will often want to add an extra 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp baking powder to increase the leavening. Click here for more details and benefits of these replacers and more.

2. Eggs for custards. Ice cream, mousse,  pastry cream, creme brulee, and cheesecake are all examples of common custards. By definition custards are thickened by the coagulation of egg proteins. Sounds hard to duplicate? Not at all.

Cashew Pastry Cream
Cashews- soaked cashews ground with water create a very similar consistency, high in fat and protein, to whipped egg yolks.
Coconut Milk- fatty and thick, coconut milk can be used to replace whipped eggs and heavy cream. If you don't believe get your hands on some Coconut Bliss Ice Cream.
Agar Powder - as a gelling agent, agar powder creates a similar coagulation that allows custards to "set-up" into desired consistency.

3. Eggs for meringue. There is something incredible about the way egg whites whip up into beautiful, clean, clouds of nothing and then piped into perfect french macaroons, folded into an melt-in-your-mouth angel food cake, or whipped into pillow-soft marshmallow. So was there any way to emulate this? I was skeptical.

Ener-g Egg Replacer - I hadn't even thought to try turning this powdered commercial egg replacer into a light and delicate meringue. But thank goodness other people had. These mint chocolate chip meringue cookies have accomplished the impossible and look amazing! Check out these vegan french macaroons. One look at these and you'll never look back.

Soy Protein Isolate Powder, Guar Gum, and Xanthan Powder- these different powders are used as thickeners and emulsifiers and when mixed up (with water) created a creamy substitution to egg whites. This marshmallow recipe shows how together these ingredients can create the perfect meringue.

4. Eggs in eggs. Did you ever think you'd be able to eat  a frittata, omelet or quiche again? Well even these classic egg dishes can be veganized and remain delicious

Tofu Frittata with Swiss Chard
Tofu - firm and soft, silken and regular. There are so many kinds of tofu and because of it's consistency and ability to soak up flavor, tofu is considered one of the best egg replacers.  Here is an amazing looking vegan omelet, just check out the reviews! Or check out this tofu frittata on the left. Hard to tell the difference, right?

Chickpea flour- with surprising similar texture and flavor to eggs, chickpea flour has become a common substitution for omelets and quiches. Check out this good looking recipe.

I hope this sheds some light onto the incredibly complex question, "What do you do about the eggs?" In truth the question is so complex there could be books written on the subject. Perhaps libraries full of books written on the subject...okay now I'm exaggerating...maybe.
Tomorrow I'm putting it to the test for you all to see. I am going to take one of the oldest recipes, a recipe we all know, and duplicate it - just without the eggs.

So check in tomorrow for the results!

1 comment:

  1. I find checkpea flour very helpful in many recipes and now I know why after reading your blog :). I used to have a hard time finding it few years ago until I found out it's known by other names like: besan, gram flour, Channa flour. Now it's available in a lot of stores as more people are using it. Thanks for all these helpful tips! I'm looking forward for your next blog.